Gujarat COVID mutation study to help develop vaccine

Analysis of mutations across SARS-CoV2 genome from Gujarat would have a major contribution in the development of a single COVID-19 vaccine for the entire country, said Prof. Chaitanya G. Joshi, Director at Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC).

Gujarat has a total 17,200 confirmed cases and 1,063 deaths have been reported so far, second highest in the country after Maharashtra, which has reported 2,362 deaths so far. The state is grappling with high mortality.

Initially, it was suspected that the virulent L-strain of the coronavirus is responsible for high COVID-19 mortality rate, but it is yet to be established scientifically.

“In the samples sent to us so far, we have seen four S strains and the rest all are L-strains. We have analyzed nearly 150 samples. At this stage, it is not correct to attribute deaths to L-strain. Various factors are involved in the death due to this viral infection. The virus is mutating and it has already spread into many parts of the country. Analysis of mutation will help in vaccine development,” said Joshi.

The A2a type mutation, which has become predominant, increases the efficiency of entry of the virus into human cells.

Joshi said through variant analysis GBRC has developed a robust mechanism, which would help in developing a single COVID-19 vaccine for the entire country.

Queried on the efficacy of this vaccine, Joshi insisted the vaccine will undergo testing and through these trials, the concerned authorities involved in the vaccine development will establish its effectiveness.

“Some diseases get a vaccine and some don’t. For example, there is no vaccine for HIV infection; it has been there for several years. Also, there is no vaccine for Malaria. A vaccine is never guaranteed. We have to keep testing,” he added.

Joshi insisted that the analysis of mutation will help in both – vaccine development and diagnosis of the viral infection.

“Our process of analysis is still continuing, and we feed our studies on mutation on a single platform, and this information is utilized in the development of the vaccine. The entire process is streamlined,” added Joshi.

According to the health ministry, in the past 24 hours, as many as 421 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Gujarat, and at least 10,780 people have recovered from the disease so far in the state. With 1,298 confirmed cases, Ahmedabad has the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

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